Equusearch founder Tim Miller told Houston City Council members Tuesday that he's lined up companies willing to retrieve more than 100 cars submerged in bayous at no cost to the city.
KPRC's Joel Eisenbaum broke the story that Equusearch had discovered 127 sunken vehicles while searching for a missing woman in 2011. Miller told council members, as he told Eisenbaum, that HPD wasn't interested in recovering the vehicles.
"We were told to just kind of keep quiet," Miller said.
He said he was told that "the city didn't have money to clean them up, and the community would go crazy over this situation."
Since then, Miller said, he's found companies willing to donate equipment, manpower, and expertise to recover the vehicles. Miller believes there are more submerged cars than the 127 that turned up during a two-day search that didn't even cover all of the city's bayous. So he's seeking the Council's permission to move forward.
The vehicles may be leaking hazardous fluids into the water, and may be contributing to flooding problems, Miller said. The vehicles could also hold clues in unsolved crimes, he said.
"We can send a message to our criminals that are putting the cars in the bayous that we have found your hiding spot," Miller told the Council.
Council Members Michael Kubosh, Brenda Stardig, and C.O. Bradford told Miller they would support him, but a city attorney said the bayou system is under the authority of the Harris County Flood District. (Miller said he'd already approached the District, whose officials referred him to City Council. Bureaucracy rules!).
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We don't see what the downside is, and we see tremendous upside potential, but HPD doesn't seem too excited.
HPD Chief McClelland "has said he wants the cars to stay put," KPRC reports. And HPD Spokesman Victor Senties told the station in May that "Our dive team spoke with Mr. Miller's sonar expert two years ago and looked at the images. We knew about most of them and did follow up and investigated two of these vehicles. Keep in mind, most of them would break apart if you tried to get them out."
HPD investigated two out of 127 known submerged vehicles, and that's supposed to be good enough? Wow. We don't know who in HPD told Senties to say that, but they didn't do him -- or the public -- any favors.
We hope Miller gets the support he's looking for.